The Whippet, originally bred in England as a “poor man’s Greyhound”, is fast becoming a darling of pet owners in the US and UK.
Medium-sized, sleek bodied, easy to brush, not many health risks, calm and good-tempered around children … what’s not to like?
Whippets are indeed delightful companions, or they can be if you follow a few basic rules.
Training has to start at an early age, as with all puppies, but in order to raise Whippets properly, it’s important to understand what 400 years of breeding has instilled in their genes.
So when can whippet puppies go outside?
Let’s find out…
All Puppies Are Hard Work
Before we get to Whippets, it’s best to acknowledge that all puppies are hard work.
They grow up much faster than a human child, have no words to express their thoughts and feelings and are often besought by thoughts, fears and urges that we can only guess at.
Add a rapidly changing body with ungainly limbs sprawling and teething troubles, you can to appreciate how hard it is for them to keep their muscular, hormonal and emotional changes within limits.
Puppies will have “accidents”, till such time as they can be successfully trained to relieve themselves outside.
Even so, if you leave them alone for too long, they simply haven’t developed the controls that adult dogs can display.
Plus, there’s rambunctiousness. Puppies can destroy things by running into them, chewing or “attacking” them – when they go on a tear, it’s hard to rein them in.
Taking puppies outside all of the time can become a chore. They love to run and explore.
A leash becomes necessary until they learn to control themselves and to obey commands.
Most of these problems, and then some, manifest themselves with Whippet pups.
Why Do Whippet Puppies Have to Stay at Home?
Whippets grow up faster than most dog breeds. A puppy tends to gain 90% of its body weight in 6-8 months.
There are major changes to its structure during this period, given its shape and long limbs.
For best care, you should give them the best possible combination of proteins, fats, vegetables and essential oils.
A Whippet pup’s diet should be higher in protein (about 24%) than an adult, and it needs to be meat-based – not the soya bean or cornmeal protein you find in some of the cheaper dog foods.
Puppies may need feeding three or four times a day.
A four to twelve months old pup, weighing 20 lbs. or less could require 733 kcal of nutrition a day.
During this rapid growth phase, Whippet puppies are a bundle of limbs. Also, their coursing and racing instincts kick in.
Whippets are bred to burst into action while chasing small game like rabbits – they can get from 0 to 35 mph in a remarkably short period of time.
They instinctively seek out small, furry objects to attack, especially if such things seem to be moving away from them.
Add in the fact that they are having trouble following instructions at an early age (though they can be taught), it’s not a good idea to have your puppy outside the house before they reach a certain age.
They will be prone to dash off at speed, attack, bite the wrong person or neighbourhood pet, or hurt themselves.
So, it may be best to leave your Whippet pup at home, but with caveats outlined below.
Can My Puppy Go in The Garden?
Your Whippet puppy can go in the garden for sure.
Besides the need to be trained to relieve themselves outsides, they need to work up their pent-up energy, run and explore – a garden can be a “safe place” for them to zoom around.
Whippets need an energetic workout – ideally a run – a couple of times a day, perhaps 45 minutes to an hour each time.
Without that, they tend to get moody, antsy and destructive. These problems are even worse with puppies.
They can absolutely go on a tear, destroying and chewing their way through household items and clothing if they haven’t worked off their sweat.
So, getting enough exercise while they are having a growth spurt and eating like a horse (so to speak) is definitely a good idea.
Your garden is a better spot than most, due to the ability to confine the puppy before it learns to control its impulses and dash off into the distance.
Having said that, you have to be careful. Whippet puppies are wont to tear off at the sight of anything moving, whether it be a squirrel or your neighbour’s cat.
If your garden doesn’t have a high wall, there is also the risk of it trying to leap over into the street, especially if you have guard rails that the puppy can see through to spot things moving outside your boundaries.
One other thing to remember is that Whippet puppies have tender skin during their growth phase.
They have a short coat, easy to brush – but that also means no tough fur. Their skin is easily pierced by nettles, tree branches and a whole host of other sharp objects.
Plus, when they get into “coursing” or chase mode, it’s hard to restrain them, especially at an early age where they are not trained to respond to commands.
Whippet pups may go through electronic fences without a blink before they even realize the deterrent of an electric shock.
Bottom line, it’s a good thing to have a backyard or garden, hopefully, one with a 5 feet high wooden fence so your puppy cannot leap over and get out.
But you need to remain cautious to see that it doesn’t bound off, go chasing or otherwise hurt itself.
When Can I Take My Whippet Pup for A Walk?
You can take your Whippet puppy for a walk after it reaches a certain age, and size and you are convinced that a certain amount of training and obedience has been ingrained into your pet.
There’s no golden rule, but if the walks are long – especially if they become runs – it’s best to wait till they are a couple of years old.
They are growing muscles which will eventually connect and strengthen their joints, but they may not all the way there yet.
Overexertion can be dangerous and lead to structural damage.
It’s important to build up stamina and endurance in your puppy, along with the training to obey commands and switch off from their “prey” instinct when necessary.
Untrained Whippet puppies may bolt off at really fast speeds that you would find hard to match.
Whippet owners have reported their dogs covering a few miles in a matter of minutes.
This can cause major problems, especially in an urban area where your puppy can get lost or hurt itself.
Chasing cars or other critters/pets can be a problem, as would be the possibility that they run fast to approach humans – especially babies or small children.
On the other hand, the more your puppy is able to meaningfully interact with what s/he sees outside, the better off your Whippet will be in the long haul.
The ability to distinguish “right” from “wrong” is almost a rite of passage, a step towards growing up to be a faithful companion.
When your dog has reached a certain age and maturity (8-12 months?), you can usually tell that they are ready.
Once you think that the positive benefits of exercise – a tethered walk is safer than letting them run free at an early age – outweighs the possible negative outcomes, you should take them for a walk or two a day.
Can I Socialize My Whippet at Home?
You can certainly socialize your Whippet pup at home, but you need to be aware of a few things.
Firstly, Whippets DO NOT like to be left alone for long periods of time, they are fond of cuddling up to you whenever possible.
Many dogs share this trait, but Whippets are one of the worst breeds in terms of coping with loneliness and boredom.
While an adult can be left indoors alone for 6-8 hours at a time, experts recommend that a Whippet puppy should not be left by itself for more than 3 hours at a time.
Second, this is directly linked to destructive behaviour, which can anyway be the case with Whippet pups at an early age.
Talking of destructive behaviour, do not be shocked or furious if your Whippet pup occasionally goes on an occasional rampage – they can get into these tears where they can’t seem to control themselves.
Chalk it up to growing pains, forgive, forget and move on!
Whippets are also notorious for getting into food wherever and whenever they can find it.
Do not leave pantry doors unlatched or refrigerator doors ajar, do not leave food lying around on counters.
Then there are the random chewing incidents and “accidents”. You have to train your Whippet out of each of these habits.
The same goes for teaching them self-discipline. You could teach them by leaving their crate door open for small periods of time, asking them to stay and watch their behaviour.
Reward them when they are able to follow instructions.
There is also the matter of toys. Some Whippet owners have reported how their pups like having a selection of toys to choose from.
Surprisingly, they are more wont to treat toys roughly if they only have a few available.
They function better if they are given a choice – their behaviour gets more responsible in that they will pick a toy, play with it and leave it be instead of literally biting its head off.
Surprisingly, tasteless cardboard seems to work in terms of sating their chewing habit, you should try it out – your slippers and furniture corners will thank you.
House training is an ongoing business, but while your pup is getting comfortable to operate in the home setting, it is certainly good to teach them how to interact with living things, including your family members, guests and pets.
Getting familiar with humans, and how to interact with them without biting someone or bowling them over in excitement, would be a great first step towards having them interact with people they will meet outside.
Remember that strangers will be a lot less forgiving than you and your family members in terms of tolerating bad behaviour.
Plus, plenty of companionship at home coupled with daily exercise will help your puppy feel loved and let them develop the calmness and poise for which Whippets are famous.
How Can I Take My Whippet Pup Outside Safely?
First, look for signs that your puppy is getting more mature. Maybe accidents are rarer or have stopped?
Maybe your puppy is responding to commands and bouts of destruction have abated?
Once you feel it’s ready, by all means, take your Whippet outside.
Initially, assuming that you are not in a confined space, it is advisable to keep your Whippet puppy on a relatively short tether – till such time that they are “socialized” in an outdoor setting.
Letting them run free is a bad idea, remember that they can be a couple of miles away in a few minutes if they spot something moving or the urge takes them.
Putting your pup on a long tether is not safe, not only for the puppy but for you.
If your Whippet bounds forward at a rapid pace, you will be jerked forward with the dog five feet away.
Your position and leverage are severely compromised in terms of being able to bring your dog to stop.
Also, there is a wider radius in which the pup can commit some mayhem – think of running after a car passing by on the street or attacking a biker on the pavement.
You should not take Whippet pups running beside your bike, whether tethered or untethered.
The time for such activities may not be before the dog is at least 3 or 4 years old.
An electronic collar may not work either, the puppy could take off before its brain registers the electric shock – you can’t turn up the level without harming your dog.
Another thing to remember is that Whippets do not like temperature extremes, they were bred to operate for short spans of time in a hunt outdoors and then be back inside.
Carry a bottle of water with you during the hot months. If it’s too cold, definitely dress up your pet in a sweater.
Pups would be even more vulnerable to falling sick in extreme weather conditions.
Benefits of Taking Your Puppy Outside
Whippets are the ultimate social animals. Plus, they need exercise for at least a couple of hours a day (preferably broken up in two segments of an hour each) to get rid of their pent-up aggression and energy.
For these reasons, it’s a great idea to take your puppy outside when it’s ready and doesn’t cause harm to either itself or anyone around it.
Once they are socialized, Whippets are wonderful dogs to be around. They love being around humans, so if they don’t overreact, your puppy will be a pleasure for other people to be around.
In the meanwhile, the exercise allows them to work off their energy – there are few sights as comforting as a Whippet tuckered out when it gets back home, curled up right next to you on the couch.
Also, the longer they walk or run outside, the more stamina and endurance your pup builds up.
This will allow you to involve them in more vigorous activity such as coursing – perhaps even enter them in races under the American Kennel Association.
In general, you will have a sleek, sinewy sighthound by your side.
Another long-term health benefit is to your pup’s lungs. Whippets are remarkably free of diseases for the most part but one of the common complaints is arrhythmia.
Staying cooped up indoors is bad for Whippets.
On the other hand, building up endurance and getting vigorous exercise will keep your pet in great shape, leading to a long and healthy life.
Whippet pups have as many problems with growing up and listening to instructions as any other breed.
Plus, they have a few issues that are unique to sighthounds.
The trick to success with them is patience, firmness and not getting frustrated easily.
Don’t give up on them after a bad incident or two.
The pups can be trained to grow up and be every bit of the faithful, calm and lovable companion as they were advertised to be.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!